Nic Brathwaite from Celesta Capital Expresses Optimism Towards CHIPS and Science ACT

**Bullish Outlook for the Global Semiconductor Industry: Insights from Nic Brathwaite, Founding Managing Partner of Celesta Capital**

The Significance of Semiconductors in Technological Innovations

Nic Brathwaite, Founding Managing Partner of Celesta Capital, is optimistic about the worldwide semiconductor industry. In a recent interview, he emphasized that semiconductors serve as the foundation for great technical innovations. With this in mind, Brathwaite believes that there hasn’t been enough venture capital (VC) funding directed towards hardware startups, giving Celesta Capital the advantage of choosing the most promising investment opportunities.

Three Investment Themes of Celesta Capital

Celesta Capital has adopted three investment themes, which guide their investment decisions:

1. Technology platforms enabling mass technology proliferation: This theme encompasses emerging applications such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and transformative technologies in industries like construction, education, and agriculture.

2. Technologies upgrading existing technology platforms: Celesta Capital focuses on technologies that enhance and transform established technology platforms.

3. Technologies at the intersection of high-tech and biotech: Brathwaite refers to this theme as “bioconvergence,” and it encompasses areas like medical diagnostics where high-tech and biotech merge.

The Importance of Semiconductors in the Global Economy

Brathwaite expresses his support for the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act, emphasizing that semiconductors are becoming increasingly critical to the global economy. Although semiconductors may not account for a large portion of a country’s GDP, their role in enabling a significant percentage of the GDP is substantial and growing.

Consolidation and the Risks in the Semiconductor Supply Chain

While semiconductors have become ubiquitous across various sectors of the economy, the supply chain has experienced consolidation, resulting in fewer manufacturers and outsourced semiconductor assembly and test vendors (OSATs). Brathwaite highlights the significant global risk this consolidation poses in terms of vulnerability. If even one semiconductor maker or OSAT fails or is eliminated, the entire semiconductor ecosystem is at risk.

Brathwaite’s Background and Experience in the Semiconductor Industry

Brathwaite’s confidence in the hardware and semiconductor industry stems from his extensive background. He began his career as a semiconductor process engineer at Intel in the 1980s. Later, he co-founded nChip and worked on the development of advanced multi-chip module assembly processes. After Flextronics acquired nChip, Brathwaite became the company’s CTO, contributing to its transformation into Flex, an electronic manufacturing services (EMS) and product development powerhouse.

His in-depth knowledge of the semiconductor and electronics industry from within positions him uniquely among venture capitalists (VCs). This experience is reflected in Celesta Capital’s focus on investing in early-stage deep-tech startups, particularly those in the hardware sector.

Celesta Capital’s Successful Semiconductor Investments

Celesta Capital boasts an impressive portfolio of semiconductor investments, including companies like Alif Semiconductor, Altair, Annapurna Labs, Aquantia, and many others. Several of these investments have been realized through IPOs or acquisitions.

Brathwaite’s Concerns about U.S. Semiconductor Manufacturing

During the interview, Brathwaite discussed his observations about semiconductor innovation in the United States. While the U.S. leads in semiconductor innovation on the design side, Brathwaite highlights the lack of significant manufacturing capacity in the country. He believes this lack of capacity puts the U.S.’s device leadership at risk. Although the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act addresses this concern, Brathwaite suggests that the U.S. government could adopt more innovative approaches, such as providing non-diluting, side-by-side funding with VCs.

The Potential of Government Support for Semiconductor Manufacturing

Brathwaite draws attention to the fact that various countries, including Canada and China, have sovereign funds that directly invest in companies. He underscores the absence of such a fund in the U.S., despite several U.S. states having sovereign funds of their own. Brathwaite believes that U.S. investment in domestic semiconductor manufacturing is a natural step that would contribute to job creation and offer solid returns on investment.

Aligning Celesta Capital’s Investments with the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act

As a VC specializing in semiconductor startups, Celesta Capital’s investments align with Brathwaite’s positive views on the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act. The Act represents a significant boost for the industry, but Brathwaite asserts that ongoing consultations with industry experts, including VCs and semiconductor company CEOs, would provide the U.S. government with valuable insights and enable better strategic investment decisions.

Ensuring the U.S. Retains Semiconductor Leadership

In conclusion, semiconductors are vital assets within the global economy, and the U.S. government must play an active role in safeguarding and supporting their presence in the country. By leveraging the expertise of industry professionals like Brathwaite and collaborating with semiconductor companies’ leaders, the government can gain valuable insights and make informed decisions to maintain U.S. semiconductor leadership.

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